# How good is your singles strategy?

Discussion in 'General Forum' started by viper_mav, Sep 28, 2003.

1. ### viper_mav Regular Member

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I thought I would open up a topic on singles strategy. Since nobody can refer me to a good book on singles strategy (other than the Jake Dowry one which I've read), perhaps I could learn from some of the more experienced singles players in this forum and at the same time, share what I know with some of the other players. Anyways, to make this more fun and to get some of you thinking, I'm gonna ask a series of questions on singles strategy - let's see how well you guys can answer this (I encourage the more experienced singles players to ask their own questions too and lets see if we can answer them as well!). Here are the questions:

1) Assuming you have a relatively accurate long forehand serve and you plan to serve it long, should you aim for:
a) the T portion of the back box
b) the corner of the back box, or
c) the middle of the back box?

1a) Why would you aim there?

2) Assume the opponent hits a net shot that causes the shuttle to tumble wildly at the net and you decide to do a high underhand clear. Assume also that the opponent is properly positioned (and balanced) for your reply and has a very good backhand clear stroke. Fortunately, there is enough angle for you to underhand clear it high to the opponent's backcourt by the time you reach the shuttle. Given that the shuttle is tumbling wildly, do you underhand clear to:
a) his/her forehand corner
b) his/her backhand corner, or
c) down the centre line?

2a) Why do you underhand clear there?

3) Assuming you are righthanded, from your right corner, you crosscourt clear it to the left corner of the other side. With respect only to the horizontal plane of the court, should your position be:
a) on the centre line
b) partly on the centre line but shifted slightly left, or
c) partly on the centre line but shifted slightly right?

3a) Why choose this position?

4) The opponent smashes straight from the right corner of his/her court down your right line. By the time you reach the shuttle, you cannot get enough leverage on your racquet to return a crosscourt net shot to the left corner of the net. However, there is enough leverage for you to return anywhere from the right corner of the net to the centre of the net. Given this situation, what would be a good position at the net to return to and why?

5) In the 2000 Olympics gold medal match between Ji Xipeng vs. Hendrawan, when the shuttle gets behind Ji Xipeng's body on the back right corner (his forehand corner), Ji Xipeng's favorite reply is a cross court slice drop to the front left corner of the net. What is the advantage of such a reply?

6) You hit an effective and TIGHT net shot that gives the opponent very little angle to return an underhand clear. How far back to the base should you move?

7) Many players refer to the "offensive" and "defensive" zones in singles. What is the offensive zone and what is the defensive zone?

FYI, there are one or two questions here that I'm not sure of the answer myself. Maybe I'll learn something from one of the more experienced singles players. Finally, I encourage the more experienced singles players to ask their own questions too and lets see if we can answer them

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2. ### Cheung Moderator

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Great questions: do you think it would be better to break each individual question up into a seperate thread, each thread having the words "single strategy:...."?

I'm just thinkiing we'd get a mixture of answers all jumbled up in one thread.

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3. ### viper_mav Regular Member

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Hi Cheung! Good to see that you are interested in this topic! I'll be more than happy to post each question in a separate thread. Perhaps one question a week? That should get some good discussion on some singles strategy over the next month

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4. ### ttktom Regular Member

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I usually go for the centre back box they usually clear then then they expect a drop and i clear it back. i would clear it to his backhand corner as ur backhand is never as strong as ur forehand. also it makes sure that ur opponent can't smash it at u either.

A) would u aim it straight
B) would aim towards the centre line
C) or aim towards the the first tram line line.

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5. ### tropicalmouse Regular Member

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I'm not very experianced, but this looks like fun.

Back box, over their back-hand side.

Make it as akward and unenjoyable as possible to return the bird.

Their back-hand.

Even if their back-hand is good, their fore-hand is better.

In the middle.

I try not to make assumptions as to where they'll return it.

Short on right. It'll make him run more.

Quick way to get the bird to a spot on the court that makes it difficult for Hendrawn to return?

I'd position myself in the upper-middle of the court...?

Offensive zone I guess would be the middle of your court. But I really have no clue.

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6. ### dlp Regular Member

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1) The centre of the box

1a) Serving wide opens up crosscourt and punch clear replie, serving to the T risks service error

2)
c) down the centre line?

2a) Why do you underhand clear there? If the shuttle is really tumbling there is no point in any other lift

3)b) partly on the centre line but shifted slightly left

3a) Why choose this position? To cover the straight smash/clear being most likely and fastest reply

4) A flat block to the centre of the net is most likely to neutralise the rally and reduce attacker's angles

5) There is a thread on this already, I suggested it was a relatively easy reply to play with slice and would keep the opponent from only covering staright replies

6) Shuffle back only a foot or two in forward attacking stance

7) Assuming you mean the shuttle position in a rally the offensive would simply be when the shuttle is being played from above the net, the defensive from below. Beyong that the areas may be divided into controlled attack, all out attack, controlled defense, uncontrolled defence

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7. ### Swordfish712 Regular Member

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Hmm... Well since I'm not that good I'll probably say some stupid answers... Haha oh well I got some time to burn

1.) C

I have to look at how and where my opponent is standing... But if he's in a non-threatening position I will hit to the T. I think I do this because moving backwards is a bit more stressful than moving diagonally, so I can burn some energy off of him. Another reason is because I don't want to put my opponent in a place (eg. corner) where he is able to do some tricky and offensive shots (he can choose from a down the line smash or a cross court smash etc.).

2.) B

I choose B because usually people have much stronger forehands than their backhands. If the shuttle is tumbling wildly, I will probably have to get much closer to the net and very far from my center. Therefore, I can't risk hitting to the middle or his forehand court, because a quick smash would very likely finish the rally. However, if I hit to his backhand court, I can expect a less powerful shot, and I can probably get out of danger quickly.

3.) B

My strategy might be too simple... But since down the line shots are fast, I need to be closer to the left side so I can make a shot faster. If he hits a cross-court shot I have time to react before the bird hits the ground.

4.) If the opponent performed a jump smash or has slow recovery time, I will return to the right side of the net. Opposite corners are the longest distance to cover, thus giving the shuttle enough time to fall under the height of the net and forcing a defensive shot from the oppoent. If he has fast recovery time, I WOULD clear to the right corner, or even hit a shot that lands in the right-middle, but since these are not choices, I will hit to the middle of the net. I can only hope that his eagerness to get closer to the bird combined with this shot will throw off his timing.

5.) This shot is much faster than a clear. If you clear the bird to anywhere in the bird, the distance it travels will be too long and the opponent will have plenty of time to react and make a punishing shot. A shuttle to the right corner will be expected, since Xipeng is in too much pressure to do anything risky. (I think this one is wrong)

6.) I would stand right in front of my center base. I've seen MANY players who can pull off cross court net slices even though I executed a netroll shot. That's why I choose to stand in the middle so I can cut off the bird at the apex of its flight. If my opponent chooses to do a net shot to one of my corners I can still lunge and attack it since I am in front of my base. Finally, if my opponent goes crazy and lifts the bird as high as he can, I'll take a couple of steps back and smash him.

7.) Are we talking about somewhere you can stand? Or something metaphorical? LOL

Ahh well there goes 30 minutes of my life.

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8. ### Neil Nicholls Regular Member

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1) d - as near the T as my accuracy SAFELY allows.
1a) The ideal is to serve to the T to cut down the angle of replies. The shot to the backhand corner is not as effective as when rallying because the receiver is already close to the corner and has no trouble reaching it.

2) c - down the centre line
2a) if the shuttle is tumbling wildly, you will not have as much control over your shot as normal. You need a large safety margin. Also, it will be a high defensive clear, so the opponent will have plenty of time to get behind it, so it is not worth trying to put it in his backhand corner.

3) b - slightly left
3a) the greatest threat is the smash down the line

4) agree with dlp + don't go for the dead straight reply as you increase the risk of putting it wide, and this is what the attacker is looking to come in to kill.

6) same as dlp. the object of the tight net shot is to get a weak reply. A lift will probably not be deep, so you can easily get behind it to kill. So stay closer to the net to kill net replies.

7) as dlp, but the further back in court it is the more above the net it has to be

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9. ### curtis Regular Member

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Sounds like you pulled that out of an exam or something. Coach Certification?

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10. ### viper_mav Regular Member

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It's been a while since I've visited this forum. I would hope there is more discussion of singles "shot selection," singles positioning, and singles strategy/tactics in the future in BF. As for the correct answers, I would say dlp and Neil hit it on the money ... I would hate to be in a singles match against either of them

FYI, I obtained the definition of "offensive zone" and "defensive zone" in singles from a singles article found at:

Here is the cut and pasted text from that article on the definition of "offensive zone" and "defensive zone" in singles:

"(i) definition of defensive & offensive zones
Lucio Fabris' coach, Ev Staples, divided the court very simply in this matter with regard to overhead strokes. The defensive zone in singles is from the doubles long service line to the back line. The offensive zone is from the doubles long service to the net.
(ii) selection of strokes from defensive zone
On this principle the following strokes should be selected in order of preference when a player is striking a bird while standing in the defensive zone:
(1) high clear (2) slow drop
Note that the slow drop should be used very sparingly. It is a difficult stroke to execute well and if mis-hit almost always results in the loss of the rally. A player should concentrate, therefore, on using high clears hit to the back corners of his opponent's court. If the opponent is weak on the backhand, obviously that should be the corner selected to hit to. Remember that if the opponent is lefthanded, his/her straight return will also attack your own backhand.
iii) selection of strokes from offensive zone
When standing in the offensive zone a player should select the following overhead strokes in order of priority:
(1) smash (2) fast drop
A player uses a smash to win rallies. Its speed and placement make it effective. Thus, a player uses it when in the offensive zone and when in a balance position to hit it efficiently..."

viper_mav

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11. ### viper_mav Regular Member

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Nope. I made them up myself. I was trying to promote more singles strategy/tactical discussion in BF as I found very few articles on this in the archives.

viper_mav

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12. ### Iwan Regular Member

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1) really depends on what kind of shots the opponent has and where your weakness is. Basically your serve should cover your weakness and take away your opponent's speciality.

2) Most players are right handers, I would clear to their forehand because the return from a forehand shot is worse than from back hand and a forehander's crosscourt slice dropshot is slower than his around the head slice dropshot. Reverse for backhanders since their forehand dropshot is a helluva lot faster. So left corner.

Take this into consideration: If you clear that tumbler up, you give the opponent three attacking shots: Smash, Attacking Clear and crosscourt sliced dropshot and all of them can be executed with a smash like motion. Anticipating a smash will make you nail your feet to the ground and a crosscourt sliced dropshot can be a winner quite easily if its fast, so you'd want to slow it down, a welly executed attacking clear WILL disposition you but its better than losing the point. Ofcourse this is all considering the opponent has a good smash that ought to be feared.

3) Left, a straight smash is a killer if you're not covering closer to it a crosscourt smash will travel a longer distance so more time to get to it.

4) He smashes from his right corner to my right side line, so its a crosscourt smash right? Return it straight to the net diagonal from his right corner so he has to travel the longest distance while your return travels the shortest distance. This makes him travel a long distance in a short time. OR!!, since that is usually the ideal reply, take a gamble and drive the shuttle right back into his rear left corner.

5) Most opponent anticipate a straight reply instead of a crosscourt reply when in that situation since a straight reply to the net if replied with a netshot means you have to travel straight to the net at a short distance. If the opponent replies with a crosscourt then you have more time to get to that corner diagonal from you. Another reason is that after playing a shot from that situation, you'll probably return to the center which is along the diagonal line of the court which makes it easier to get to your own shuttle should the opponent plays a straight net reply. Third, since most opponent anticipates a straight reply, a welly executed crosscourt dropshot can be a killer.

6) Don't take a step back, if the opponent plays a straight netshot, you'll be there to brush it straight away without having to move forward which will make the opponent nervous. If the opponent plays a crosscourt, use your "crab leg" to get to the shuttle and play another tight netshot. If the opponent lifts, it will be very high which means you have a lot of time to get back and jump up for a killer shot.

7) no offense to that guy who said defensive zone is at the second last line... but, standing there when anticipating a smash in singles is going to kill you... if i were your opponent and you're standing there everytime you clear up high giving me opportunity to smash, id rather slice down your shuttle crosscourt, you wont be able to receive it. IMO, there is no real offensive zone or defensive zone.

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13. ### alzgodemort Regular Member

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1) Assuming you have a relatively accurate long forehand serve and you plan to serve it long, should you aim for:
a) the T portion of the back box

Because if i don't, my opponet will either smash the shuttle down the line or do a cross court drop. In either case, I will be in bad position.

2) Assume the opponent hits a net shot that causes the shuttle to tumble wildly at the net and you decide to do a high underhand clear. Assume also that the opponent is properly positioned (and balanced) for your reply and has a very good backhand clear stroke. Fortunately, there is enough angle for you to underhand clear it high to the opponent's backcourt by the time you reach the shuttle. Given that the shuttle is tumbling wildly, do you underhand clear to:
b) his/her backhand corner, or
Because he will probably hit it around the head and then he will be off-balance (maybe)

3) Assuming you are righthanded, from your right corner, you crosscourt clear it to the left corner of the other side. With respect only to the horizontal plane of the court, should your position be:
b) partly on the centre line but shifted slightly left, or
Because if he decide to smash/drop/clear straight, I will have to be faster than if he decide to do a cross court shot. (wich will give me more time)

4) The opponent smashes straight from the right corner of his/her court down your right line. By the time you reach the shuttle, you cannot get enough leverage on your racquet to return a crosscourt net shot to the left corner of the net. However, there is enough leverage for you to return anywhere from the right corner of the net to the centre of the net. Given this situation, what would be a good position at the net to return to and why?
Depend, if the opponent is right handed, to the center. It will open his backhand (he won't be able to cut it if i do a low underhand clear)
If he is left handed, to the right to open even more his backhand

5) In the 2000 Olympics gold medal match between Ji Xipeng vs. Hendrawan, when the shuttle gets behind Ji Xipeng's body on the back right corner (his forehand corner), Ji Xipeng's favorite reply is a cross court slice drop to the front left corner of the net. What is the advantage of such a reply?
I'm not sure that I know what you are talking about but I would say surprise and probably because his opponent cover much more the straight side.

6) You hit an effective and TIGHT net shot that gives the opponent very little angle to return an underhand clear. How far back to the base should you move?
Lets say hum... a distance of arm+racket
anyway if he clears it, it will be really high so i will have the time to get under the shuttle

7) Many players refer to the "offensive" and "defensive" zones in singles. What is the offensive zone and what is the defensive zone?
Don't know

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14. ### Cheung Moderator

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Question 4.

What happened to the one question per week ?

Can we discuss question 4 in some detail?

Iwan, question 4 is referring to straight smash not a cross court smash.

I find dlp's answer to be interesting. I wonder he or Neil can explain more clearly what is meant by a 'flat block'. Some readers may not be familiar with this term.

Also, does the flat block neutralise the rally or the placement to the centre of the court? Can a flat block that is near the tramlines neutralise the attack?

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15. ### Iwan Regular Member

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oh a straight smash, ok well... its safe to place it straight esp if you're confident your return won't be too high to be brushed, but once in a while i'd whip the shuttle diagonal across the court since i can get enough angle to aim for the center.

Most offensive player like WCH would most likely rush straight after a straight smash following the shuttle, so a diagonal "slam" can be quite a killer when not anticipated. Also if successful at deceiving the opponent and score a winner, the opponent is going to be less aggressive at attacking the net straight after a straight smash, making a net reply to be safer.

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16. ### Mag Moderator

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It's OK to play to the middle

Regarding #4, agree with Iwan that a diagonal drive can be very effective -- IF you manage to pull it off. A straight return along the right line to the net is probably the last option I'd try, since will most likely be just what the opponent is expecting -- in other words, he will be rushing to hammer it down. Sure, if your return is good enough, he won't be able to do that, but he can instead opt for a diagonal net shot to your front backhand corner... and that WILL give you trouble. Even if you manage to rush to return it, you basically have just two options there: straight hairpin net shot (risky, as your opponent is already at the net) or a high clear (difficult if very close to net and also very risky, can be blocked by opponent). You really don't want to return by another diagonal net shot, as it needs to be perfect if your opponent isn't going to hammer it down as it reaches its highest point over the net (remember he's coming from that direction).

Ergo: a short return to the middle is the "safest" shot. It will give you a little more margin, and it will give you a little more time to recover than the straight return -- and you'll have better coverage of the court.

In general, I've found that many so-called advanced players under-estimate the value of "playing to the middle", both to the back and to the net. A shot to the middle (net or back) can actually be a very effective setup to gain the attack. Sure, your opponent has many return options (all four corners basically), but you've narrowed down those nasty angles. In other words, you're covering the court well, and chances are that you'll be able to intercept his shots and hammer them down. In any case you'd have to foul up bitterly in order for him to make a winner -- but I'm assuming that you have some basic defensive skills.

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17. ### viper_mav Regular Member

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I need some good questions to ask first! I just posted another thread on 2 more singles questions:

I specifically worded question 4) in a way to eliminate the possibility of a crosscourt return. The key to question 4) is that you are in a disadvantaged position when returning the smash. Obviously, if your position is good, it gives you alot of options (including the option of a crosscourt return) but in the scenario of question 4), you're having enough problems reaching the smash I think DLP, Neil, and Mag answered it very well.

For instance, if you're on the right side of the court and you know that you will rush to return to your base position, you can play a shot that is off centre to the right. Because you played a shot that is slightly off centre to the right, your base position is slightly off centre to the right as well; thus, this type of shot minimizes your distance back to your base position. Vice versa if you are on the left side of the court.

viper_mav

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Last edited: Apr 14, 2004
18. ### viper_mav Regular Member

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Absolutley. I'm in the midst of trying to incorporate more shots to the middle, when necessary, in my game at the moment - this is an area where I can definitely improve. You know you're playing an opponent with advanced strategy when he/she starts to hit shots to the middle in order to limit your advantage

viper_mav

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19. ### Brave_Turtle Regular Member

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HaWw I just don't understand the pros sometimes. I watched many match and noticed that when the server does a short serve the receiver always does a normal drop shot.

If it was me the best option would be an offensive clear to the backhand side of my opponent.

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20. ### Iwan Regular Member

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Brave Turtle, the pros play at a different level from you. Assuming at your level the players have a poor backhand or around the head shot, then yes, the best reply is a drive to the backhand.

But at profesional level, if you do the same thing to the top players, the most probable reply you'll get is a thundering around the head smash, cross court chop or an attacking clear that sends you scrambling to the back.

At pro level, serving short means pulling the opponent forward so you can send the shuttle safely to the back (defensive) or gain the initiative to attack (offensive, esp if you're confident you can outplay your opponent at the net).

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